How to search for text in multiple files

Looking for info on how to search for text in multiple files at once ? Read our complete guide on how to search text within files quickly and effectively.

How many times have you happened to remember a written sentence but you don’t remember in which file on your PC it is contained? To me many times. For this reason I wanted to write this tutorial on how to search for words or entire phrases within documents in a folder on Windows , macOS and Linux and with third-party applications such as Notepad ++ and other valid alternatives.

Are you ready? Then let’s get started.


  • How to Search for Text in Windows 10
    • Customize indexing options
    • How to search for the contents of a file on Windows 10
  • How to search in files with Notepad ++
  • Other programs to search for text in multiple files at once
    • InFile Seeker (Windows)
    • SearchMyFiles (Windows)
    • Everything (Windows)

How to Search for Text in Windows 10

Compared to Windows 7, Windows 10 has been significantly improved especially in terms of searching for files and folders. To refine your search for words and text in multiple files, however, you need to improve the indexing options of Windows 10.

Customize indexing options

The file index in Windows must be configured correctly if you want to avoid system slowdowns. To do this, go to Start and type Indexing options in the search field .

In the window that appears, click on Edit and verify that among the selected paths there is also the Local disk (C 🙂 . If it is not selected, add it to the other paths by selecting it.

Click on the Advanced button and in the Index Settings tab , enable the options:

  • Index files encrypted
  • Consider similar words with accents different

In the first case the encrypted files will be added to the index, in the second case the words with accent will be distinguished and considered differently: for example “tea” and “you”.

Remaining in Advanced Options , click on the File Types tab (where you can specify the files you want to index) and check the Index the properties and contents of the file and press the OK button to confirm and save the changes.

Now open File Explorer by searching from the Start menu . Then go to the View menu and click on Options> Change folder and search options . In the Folder Options window go to the Search tab and enable the options:

  • Include system directories
  • Include compressed files (ZIP, CAB and similar)
  • Always search for file names and contents (this may take a few minutes)

Press the OK button to confirm the changes.

How to search for the contents of a file on Windows 10

Now that you have set the indexing options in the best possible way, if you know the exact location, then the folder, where to search for a phrase or a word of one or more files, just go to the precise path where to start the search. Then go to the desired folder and select the search field at the top right.

Typing the word to search for in multiple files, the Search tab will appear at the top .

Press on Advanced Options and check that the File Content item is enabled.

If you have trouble finding a sentence, try linking the words with the + sign . For example: allows + to + have .

Warning : Searching for content on a very large hard drive may take several minutes.

How to search in files with Notepad ++

A good solution to search for text in several files at the same time is definitely the open source program for Windows: Notepad ++. It is a simple and light tool, but above all easy to use.

To use it, connect to the official page of the site and download the latest release by pressing the Download button. When finished, launch the npp.xxxinstaller.exe file and follow the installation procedure.

Note : if you want you can also download the Portable version, it does not require any installation.

Start Notepad ++ and set the Italian language by going to the Settings> Preferences menu . In Localization set the Italian language .

Then go to the Search menu and select Find in files .

A window will appear where you can search for a phrase or word in multiple files.

What you will need to do is:

  1. Type the text to search for in the Findfield :
  2. Specify a folder where the files are located by clicking on the button with the three dots.
  3. Check the boxes next to the items: In subfoldersand In hidden folders (if you have secret folders).
  4. Check the option Whole words only, if it is a specific sentence.
  5. Specify if you want to be case sensitivein the search.
  6. Under Search Type, make sure Normal is selected . The others are more specific, such as Regular Expressions and Search by Carriage Returns.

Also very interesting are the Replace with fields : to replace the text you are looking for with another word or phrase in all files and Filters: to specify in which file extensions you want to search. If you leave it blank, Notepad ++ will search all files.

At the end, press the Find all button and wait for the result. Notepad ++ will highlight in green the files containing the text (highlighted in yellow) you are looking for.

Other programs to search for text in multiple files at once

Notepad ++ is not the only freeware program that allows you to search for content in files, here are other equally good software.

InFile Seeker (Windows)

InFile Seeker (Windows) : is a powerful search engine capable of finding words or entire phrases in documents or folders on any storage device. With a user-friendly interface it allows you to specify the types of files in which to search (for example: txt, php, html, xml, etc.), to select the folder in which to start the search, and to search in subfolders. When the search is complete, the program will show the files in which the content you are looking for has been found.

SearchMyFiles (Windows)

SearchMyFiles is a tool that does not require any installation process. After downloading it launch the SearchMyFiles.exe executable file and in the Search Options dialog box specify the content you want to search for. Next to the File Contains optionselect Text and type the word or phrase you want to search for. In Base Folders, click on Browse and indicate the folder in which the program should search. Click on Start Search and wait for the operation to complete. At the end of the search you can select one or more files and save the list in a TXT, CSV, HTML or XML file.

Everything (Windows)

Everything  is a tool also available in a very powerful portable version. To find a text in multiple files, all you have to do is start it and type the word in the search field at the top. If you want to carry out a specific search, go to the Search> Advanced Search menuand set the parameters and the path, including the subfolders. Alternatively, type this syntax in the search field: <path to search folder> content: ” <search phrase> “. It is worth noting the possibility with this program to eliminate duplicate files .

To conclude, if you have a MacOS you can search within the documents by relying on Spotlight , for more information read this guide . For Linux operating systems , you just need a terminal with grep in which to type: grep -r -i “search string” / path / to / folder /.

  • -rallows searching in subfolders.
  • -iignores case sensitivity.
by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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